Food chemistry

Acrylamide is formed in the Maillard reaction


Reports of the presence of acrylamide in a range of fried and oven-cooked foods1,2 have caused worldwide concern because this compound has been classified as probably carcinogenic in humans3. Here we show how acrylamide can be generated from food components during heat treatment as a result of the Maillard reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars. We find that asparagine, a major amino acid in potatoes and cereals, is a crucial participant in the production of acrylamide by this pathway.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Proposed pathways for the formation of acrylamide after Strecker degradation of the amino acids asparagine and methionine in the presence of dicarbonyl products from the Maillard reaction.
Figure 2: Temperature-dependent formation of acrylamide (mg per mol of amino acid) from asparagine (0.1 mmol) and glucose (0.1 mmol) in 0.5 M phosphate buffer (100 µl, pH 5.5) heated in a sealed glass tube for 20 min.


  1. 1

    Rosen, J. & Hellenas, K.-E Analyst 127, 880–882 (2002).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Tareke, E., Rydberg, P., Karlsson, P., Eriksson, S. & Törnqvist, M. J. Agric. Food Chem. 50, 4998–5006 (2002).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    IARC IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans 60, 389 (1994).

  4. 4

    Belitz, H.-D & Grosch, W. Food Chemistry (Springer, New York, 1999).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Martin, F. L. & Ames, J. M. J. Agric. Food Chem. 49, 3885–3892 (2001).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Dembinski, E. & Bany, S. J. Plant Physiol. 138, 494–496 (1991).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Castle, L. J. Agric. Food Chem. 41, 1261–1263 (1993).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Donald S. Mottram.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mottram, D., Wedzicha, B. & Dodson, A. Acrylamide is formed in the Maillard reaction. Nature 419, 448–449 (2002).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.